Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Team Cardella Over The Top already

Special election: Over the top rhetoric already

The Coralville Courier is really a must-read with your morning cup of coffee. Actually, tea (as in bag) might be more appropriate. It's a great insight into the mindset of local conservatives as the special election effort moves from petition stage into Lori Cardella campaign stage.

One of the first hot-buttons in the campaign is the petitioner's reliance on student signatures: "Cardella said about half of her signatures came from UI students."

I'm uneasy with criticizing that tactic--like I keep saying, I more than anyone argued in favor of students in the just-finished city election. The petitioners made a good effort and get a Hee-Haw salute:

But it's--let's think of a mild word here... cynical to do so when the rhetoric at the time of the conservation bond recount was, to quote Tom Cardella, "the student body population may override the wishes of long-term rural residents of Johnson County."

And even in attempting to defend the student signatures -- which are legitimate and don't even need defending -- local conservatives' contempt for the students shines through. Deb Thornton writes: "Johnson County Democrats - who by the way, just love all of the student votes, as long as they are voting straight ticket Democrat as they are told!"

There's no way to truly ferret out the student vote; ballots are secret and University enrollment is not on the voter file. But I think even Deb and I can agree that Iowa City precincts 3 and 5 are the most student-dominated precincts.
Straight ticket Democratic voting, 2008
(absentee and election day combined)

Iowa City 3: 19.35%
Iowa City 5: 19.48%
County wide: 19.61%
The students voted straight ticket D a tiny bit lower than average but basically no more or less than any other voters in the county.

But most of Wednesday's sputtering rage of over-the-top rhetoric was directed at Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek, who wrote in the Tuesday DI:
I will now look forward to the special election so that we can welcome Janelle Rettig to the supervisors a second time and to tell Lori thanks, but no thanks. That $75,000 could have been put to a much better use. It could have been used to pay for the ever-climbing costs of bringing forward a new Justice Center.

Now, I'm not yet convinced on the need for a new building (I could be persuaded, but I want some changes in law and in law enforcement policy in exchange), but Lonny is far more receptive to public opinion and input than his predecessor Bob Carpenter, who went into the 2000 jail bond campaign with the attitude of "I'm the sheriff, I say this is what I need, and how dare you have an opinion."

Lonny started running in 2002, before Carpenter announced his retirement, meaning he was potentially running against his own boss. Hardly the move of a loyal "member of the local Democrat party machine" (though, in fairness, Carpenter was no more a Democrat than the man in the moon) or someone who's afraid of an election.

Yet the headline blares, in the inimitable teabagger style, "Pulkrabek questions Constitutional right to vote." If anyone has questioned people's right to vote, it's Thornton, who led a GOP effort in 2004 that challenged 2000 Johnson County absentee ballots. Most were, you guessed it, students, but others had "flaws" such as living in a Systems Unlimited house or having bad handwriting--an effort that drove one woman with a degenerative disability to tears of rage.

Back to Lonny, an anonymous writer ("from fear of reprisal from my own Sheriff") complains, "You are a sheriff now, sir, supposedly, a non-partisan position."

Uhhh... actually, sheriff is a partisan position. We even had a Republican sheriff here as late as 1988. I seem to remember Lonny beating a Republican who said some rather unfortunate things about his horse.

The rhetoric of Anonymous isn't quite to that level, but "supporter of one party rule, sort of like a dictator" doesn't 1) sound like the Lonny Pulkrabek I know or 2) raise the level of discourse. But it does fit the Tea Party line: Iowa City as Little Chicago. Ostensibly about corruption, but it bashes students, Chicago People If You Know What I Mean, and "President" Barrack Hussein Osama all at once.

The "machine" rhetoric is amusing to this little cog, as it presents the Johnson County Democrats as some sort of efficient monolith, awaiting marching orders. Obviously, these folks have never been to any of our meetings. The Republicans should know about our primary fights, though; enough of them regularly participate as "Democrats for a day" using, as is their right, our rather loose laws on party registration.

This may be as good a point as any to make it clear that Janelle Rettig is not necessarily the Democratic candidate in the Jan. 19 election, though she has announced her intent to seek the nomination at the special convention. (And I've announced my intent to support her at that convention--more info on that as details are announced.)

Back to Anonymous, he/she/it writes: "How about some justice and protection for the south side! It is a war zone down there," apparently unaware that Broadway and Lakeside are city, not county, jurisdictions. (Aside: if the city was less concerned with harassing 18 19 and 20 year old adults downtown, they could devote more resources to public safety in other parts of town.) Just throw enough irrelevant stuff at the wall to see what sticks.

(Anonymous also keeps posting comments on some of my blog's four year old posts, usually about Viagra. I suspect this may be unrelated.)

One thing Anonymous does get right: "How many of the Johnson County Supervisors are Republican? That’s right, NONE!" True, because none have been elected to the job in 50 years. And if the low tone of rhetoric keeps up, Janelle Rettig should extend the Democratic winning streak.

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